Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility
Free Article Join Over 1 Million Premium Members And Get More In-Depth Stock Guidance and Research

What Happened in the Stock Market Today

By Jim Crumly - Updated Apr 16, 2019 at 10:02PM

You’re reading a free article with opinions that may differ from The Motley Fool’s Premium Investing Services. Become a Motley Fool member today to get instant access to our top analyst recommendations, in-depth research, investing resources, and more. Learn More

Macy's reported surprising weakness in holiday sales, but Bed Bath & Beyond rose after its earnings report.

Disappointing holiday retail sales reports weighed on the market Thursday, but growing optimism about interest rates buoyed rate-sensitive stocks, and the Dow Jones Industrial Average ( ^DJI ) and the S&P 500 ( ^GSPC 1.12% ) managed to finish a see-saw, low-volume session higher.

Today's stock market

Index Percentage Change Point Change
Dow 0.51% 122.80
S&P 500 0.45% 11.68

Data source: Yahoo! Finance.

The retail sector slumped, with the SPDR S&P Retail ETF ( XRT 1.62% ) down 1.6%. Dividend-paying stocks rallied, sending the Utilities Select SPDR ETF ( XLU 1.23% ) up 1.3%.

Macy's ( M 0.44% ) helped propel stocks of department stores downward when it reported weak holiday sales, but shares of Bed Bath & Beyond ( BBBY 4.91% ) went the other direction after its earnings report.

Several colorful stock graphs superimposed over each other

Image source: Getty Images.

Sales at Macy's slowed in December

Investors dumped shares of Macy's, sending them down 17.7% after the retailer reported surprising weakness in holiday sales and lowered guidance for sales and profit. The company saw strong sales on Black Friday and the week following, but they softened in mid-December and didn't return to normal until Christmas week.

Macy's had upbeat expectations on Nov. 14 after a strong third quarter, raising guidance for full-year sales and earnings per share. Today the company walked back that change and then some. Comparable sales for 2018 are now expected to increase 2%, versus November's guidance of 2.3% to 2.5%. Net sales are expected to be flat, rather than up 0.3% to %0.7, and earnings per share will be $3.95 to $4.00, down from guidance of $4.10 to $4.30.

Comparable sales in November and December increased 0.7% and the lowered expectations are still well above guidance given at the start of the year, but the sudden reversal shocked investors, who erased almost a full year of stock gains despite the progress the company has made recovering from a multiyear slump.

Check out the latest Macy's earnings call transcript.

Bed Bath & Beyond meets low expectations

The story for Bed Bath & Beyond was almost the exact opposite of Macy's: After setting low expectations, the company met them in its fiscal third quarter and shares soared 16.6%. Sales increased 2.6% to $3.03 billion, just shy of analyst estimates of $3.04 billion, on a 1.8% decline in comparable-store sales. Earnings per share of $0.18 beat expectations by $0.01.

The struggling retailer, whose stock fell 47% in 2018, also expressed just enough optimism to help its cause, saying, "The Company is ahead of plan with respect to its longer-term financial goals to moderate the declines in its operating profit and net earnings per diluted share, this year and next, and grow net earnings per diluted share by 2020, and based on its preliminary assumptions, believes that its fiscal 2019 net earnings per diluted share will be about the same as fiscal 2018."

That glimmer of hope that the company could eventually turn around was all it took to give the stock a pop today.

Check out the latest Bed Bath & Beyond earnings call transcript.

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis – even one of our own – helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.

Invest Smarter with The Motley Fool

Join Over 1 Million Premium Members Receiving…

  • New Stock Picks Each Month
  • Detailed Analysis of Companies
  • Model Portfolios
  • Live Streaming During Market Hours
  • And Much More
Get Started Now

Stocks Mentioned

Macy's, Inc. Stock Quote
Macy's, Inc.
$27.30 (0.44%) $0.12
Bed Bath & Beyond Inc. Stock Quote
Bed Bath & Beyond Inc.
$17.95 (4.91%) $0.84
Dow Jones Industrial Average (Price Return) Stock Quote
Dow Jones Industrial Average (Price Return)
S&P 500 Index - Price Return (USD) Stock Quote
S&P 500 Index - Price Return (USD)
$4,563.69 (1.12%) $50.65
SPDR Series Trust - SPDR S&P Retail ETF Stock Quote
SPDR Series Trust - SPDR S&P Retail ETF
$92.27 (1.62%) $1.47
The Select Sector SPDR Trust - The Utilities Select Sector SPDR Fund Stock Quote
The Select Sector SPDR Trust - The Utilities Select Sector SPDR Fund
$66.70 (1.23%) $0.81

*Average returns of all recommendations since inception. Cost basis and return based on previous market day close.

Related Articles

Motley Fool Returns

Motley Fool Stock Advisor

Market-beating stocks from our award-winning service.

Stock Advisor Returns
S&P 500 Returns

Calculated by average return of all stock recommendations since inception of the Stock Advisor service in February of 2002. Returns as of 12/02/2021.

Discounted offers are only available to new members. Stock Advisor list price is $199 per year.

Our Most Popular Articles

Premium Investing Services

Invest better with the Motley Fool. Get stock recommendations, portfolio guidance, and more from the Motley Fool's premium services.